#BookReview – Gray Mountain

Gray-Mountain-by-John-GrishamI got this book thinking it was another courtroom crime thriller.  Actually it is more of a issue novel.  This is where the author focus in on real world issues which in the case of this story it’s about the coal industry and the effects it has on the surrounding communities as well as its mining employees.  Samantha a lawyer on furlough from a major firm in NYC takes a internship that turns into more down in Brady, VA.  She learns all about the grimy and slimy ways of the lawyers that represent the big coal companies.  The book moved a little slower than I am used to.  In fact, the first half of the book was like a collection of stories that added back story to the book.   The author then examined some cases and what happened to miners that inhaled coal over a large number of years.  A irreversible disease called black lung is caused by prolonged exposure and there is money set aside for claimants of this disease, but the lawyers twist every loophole so that the coal companies don’t have to pay it.  Donovan, one of the only trial lawyers,  was killed after receiving a settlement for a client of 3 millions dollars, but it turns out that as good as he was he also cut a lot of corners.  So the book turned out to be about the decision of whether or not to stay in VA and take on the role of an actual trial attorney or go back to NYC to a promising offer as an associate.  I won’t give the ending away.  If you are looking for a book to just pass some time – I recommend it.  But understand this is not a courtroom thriller as I assumed it would be.  – Norman LaVelle



The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track—until the recession hits and she is downsized, furloughed, and escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, all for a slim chance of getting rehired.

In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Samantha’s new job takes her into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack. But some of the locals aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town, and within weeks Samantha is engulfed in litigation that turns deadly. Because like most small towns, Brady harbors big secrets that some will kill to conceal.

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